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Pac-12 power rankings: Cougars, Trojans, Cardinal and Huskies still a notch above the rest

Southern California running back Ronald Jones II, left, runs the ball as UCLA linebacker Krys Barnes defends during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017, in Los Angeles. USC won 28-23. (Mark J. Terrill / AP)
Southern California running back Ronald Jones II, left, runs the ball as UCLA linebacker Krys Barnes defends during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017, in Los Angeles. USC won 28-23. (Mark J. Terrill / AP)

We’ve shuffled around the top-four almost every week since the season lifted off in August, but 2½ months later, if we know anything about the Pac-12 – and more often than not, we haven’t – it’s that the Cougars, Trojans, Cardinal and Huskies are still the class of the league. Arizona wanted in and got in thanks to the head-turning play of its sophomore quarterback … then played itself right out. Arizona State has looked the part at times, but not at others, and even if the Sun Devils can win the Territorial Cup with style points, they’d be hard-pressed to crack the “Group of Four.”

USC is off this week and Stanford closes with Notre Dame, but the result of the 110th Apple Cup could shake up the top-third of our power rankings one more time.

Here’s what they look like heading into Pac-12 Rivalry Week, Part 2.

1. Washington State (9-2, 6-2; last week: No. 1) – After an embarrassing loss to the Huskies in last year’s Apple Cup, the Cougars get their mulligan.

2. USC (10-2, 8-1; last week: No. 2) – The LA rivalry went about as we expected: Josh Rosen was excellent, his supporting cast wasn’t. Sam Darnold was subpar, his supporting cast was superb.

3. Stanford (8-3, 7-2; last week: No. 3) – The Cardinal need help from the Huskies to win the Pac-12 North. Heck, maybe they should loan out Bryce Love to Chris Petersen’s club for the week.

4. Washington (9-2, 6-2; last week: No. 4) – Not that the Huskies would need him. Myles Gaskin has been every bit as effective lately, rushing for seven touchdowns and 464 yards over the Huskies’ last four games.

5. Arizona State (6-5, 5-3; last week: No. 6) – Arizona State running back Demario Richard wins the award for “Best Pac-12 player you haven’t heard of.” The senior turned in his third consecutive 100-yard game – and scored three touchdowns – to lead the Sun Devils to their sixth win.

6. Oregon (6-5, 3-5; last week: No. 7) – The Ducks got Justin Herbert back and stamped out Arizona 48-28. In games that Herbert has started, Oregon is 5-1 and averaging 49.3 points. In the other games, the Ducks are 1-4 and averaging 15 points.

7. Arizona (7-4, 5-3; last week: No. 5) – In his return, Herbert also apparently robbed Khalil Tate of his powers. The Oregon QB dashed for a 40-yard touchdown run early in Saturday’s game. Tate finished with 32 yards in total.

8. Utah (5-5; 2-6; last week: No. 9) – Kyle Whittingham’s timeout with 23 seconds to play in the fourth quarter vs. UW should be immediately filed into the “Most peculiar coaching decisions of 2017” folder.

9. Cal (5-6, 2-6; last week: No. 8) – Cal lost Big Game No. 1. Big Game No. 2 is this weekend’s test against UCLA. That’ll decide whether it’s the Golden Bears or Bruins extending their season another few weeks.

10. Colorado (5-6, 2-6; last week: No. 11) – Colorado had the week off, so even if they aren’t favored to beat the Utes in the season finale, the Buffaloes will at least be better rested.

11. UCLA (5-6, 3-5; last week: No. 10) – Has the month of November ever gone worse for UCLA’s athletic department? Jim Mora is out in Westwood two weeks after a trio of basketball players were caught shoplifting in China.

12. Oregon State (1-10, 0-8); last week: No. 12) – Defeating the Ducks in the Civil War could still make this feel like a six-win season for the Beavers.


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